Duty Session 48: Still Water Bandits

With the increased trade between the various cities and kingdoms, the Lander traders have also been reporting an increase in Bandit activity. A group that calls themselves the 'Still Water Bandits' has begun raiding caravans and ships. This has caused a slowing of supply lines, as well as damage to the lives and livelihoods of the traders. They are seeking help from capable Adventurers to help clear out a number of bandit camps.

Difficulty:    Moderate
Rec. Party:    3+
Rewards:       2
World Rewards: Increase in trade route efficiency

Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The Hunter's Guild has been getting some disturbing rumors lately.

Today, it's about a bunch of marauders who are preying on the waterways around the Isle of Beginnings. The camp itself stands out against the pale sand and rocky beaches, a rough palisade errected to protect the interior from prying eyes. A pair of ships can be seen in the nearby distance, far out past the breakwater. As glamour is the true endgame, the pirate flag with it's skeletal parrot and bloody cutlass waves over both the ship and the camp.

It's loud.

It's just after 4 in the afternoon and already a chill is starting to steal over the late afternoon. The hard packed dirt and snow is a muddy brown from the travel of many boots, not helped by a fickle wind that blows through roaring campfires. Nureha arrives at the edge of the encampment, leaning on the black staff as she keeps an eye out for sentries.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kirito had been knocking out quests like crazy in his mad dash to level up as quickly as he could and as wisely as he could. It comes as no surprise that he helped pick up a bandit quest, so he finds himself sneaking up beside Nureha.

"What do their numbers look like?" he asks, assuming that Nureha had been doing some looking out.

"We'll have to stay out of their detection range if we want to take them out by surprise, or we can manage a full on assault, depending on the skills of the party."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Another day, another bandit camp. Where do they /come/ from? If Landers are really people now...

    Still, one way or another, despite Kite's words, these bandits are hurting others and in this lawless land adventurers ARE the police. And judge, and jury, and executioner.

    It feels somehow sinister to think of it that way rather than 'stopping bad guys' though...

    Anyway, the catgirl is here and dressed for the event with a black pirate hat with a plume in it, a blue cloak over a buff coat with a red sash around it, and black trousers. The armor set would include piratey-looking boots, no doubt, if she wasn't a were fang.

    And Proteus is here so she feels weird about leaning too much into the cat thing, so she keeps her tone businesslike: "I just did this a couple nights ago." She volunteers. "There was an opportunity for sneaking, a fight, a drinking contest, and... a song battle. And then the final battle with the pirate king. Obviously, as a ninja I'm most suitable for sneaking."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Reika has been picking at various side quests and calls for arms, desperately needing the game experience. She certainly didn't want a repeat of what happened to her only a couple of weeks ago. It feels like forever though.

The Nero Idol might be a familiar face outside of the game world, but in Elder Tales she's just another adventurer fending for herself, dressed like an assassin. For now it suffices with daily needs at least, but she miss her work. She's been singing a lot more recently too, as if she didn't want to lose her voice, at least. One of the few things that still link her to her original self at least.

But she's not signing at the very moment. But she's smiling in a friendly way to those present, greeting them one by one when eyes meet. She's waiting on the debriefing mostly, on how they plan this challenge.

She comes closer to Mizuki, one of those she knows pretty well here at least.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Yuuki is always happy to go and take on quests for the Hunter's Guild. Especially when it's with friends! So when Nureha mentioned she was going out to beat up some bandits, Yuuki naturally tagged along for the ride.

    As such, the purple imp walks along with Nureha, humming happily to herself, excited about the adventure to come. When they finally arrive at the bandit camp, Yuuki stands there, hands on her hips as she says, "Heh heh heh, they're not going to know what hit them!"

    And then Mizuki proceeds to just announce the quest layout, to which Yuuki points and says, "Heyyyyyy! No spoilers!" She looks upset now.

    Right up until she looks back at the camp and grins, "Sneaking could be fun! Catch them by surprise~"
Att Syne
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Att Syne has not seen the light of adventure in... too long. Days, at least! He's been crafting, and recruiting, and shitposting, and, well, basically he needs a break from his break from the grind.

ENTER STAGE LEFT. Att lingers near Nureha's elbow, leaning on his own quarterstaff and squinting into the camp. He rolls a coin between the fingers on his other hand, looking down to it and then up at the encampment, back and forth. "You know, I'm not saying arson is the solution to all our problems. But it could be our solution to this specific one."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kirito isn't the only one that's been working to level up as quickly as possible. The race is on and the stakes are even higher than before, what with a powerful PK with the ability to permakill people wandering around.

Of course, this means Proteus, along with a significant chunk of Plant Duck have been signing up for any and every quest around. There's a lot of quests that need doing. Nureha had been handling the initial negotiations, but Proteus was of course hovering in the background. She asides to the guild leader, "You know... It's probably pirates."


"Yep." Proteus just says to herself, hunching under her cloak as she looks over the pirate flag waving over the encampment. "This looks like a problem to be solved with directed applications of violence. Unless someone has a better plan?" She casts her gaze over the others present, both in and out of guild. Some of these people she doesn't recognize immediately. The presence of Mizuki gets a little smile from the Imp, however, who seems to nod to the catgirl in greeting. The smile doesn't waver as she seems to resist the urge to catgirl-talk. "So you've been through this before, hmm?" She says to herself. "Well, maybe we can benefit from your knowledge to some degree. Who knows if the defenses will be the same, though."

She shrugs in general. "Let's figure out our options and then make it happen." She says, simply.
Count V
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

It goes without saying that, during one of his guild's earliest ventures out into dangerous situations in the new enviroment, Count V made sure to participate. The long, yellow scarf that usually hangs loosely has been drawn up into a tight bundle, half-concealing his face. He has a wary, careful step to his movements, though he's putting more effort into staying in a tight group with his Guild leader than he is at simply avoiding /any/ possible attention outside.

His staff is tucked underneath his left arm, its great prominent eye blinking slowly at the ground.

To Kirito, he merely smiles. V has confidence in his guild leader, and feels no need to boast.

Mizuki captures his attention when she explains her past experiences with the duty. V nods gratefully towards her, seizing his staff and taking it properly into hand. He gestures towards Yuuki with it, and says, "Forewarned is forearmed, in our current predicament. There's no guarantee the content isn't somewhat dynamic, at least, but it's good to have a broad picture of what to expect."

"Even if there /is/ some fun in doing it blind." He cedes, settling his staff back down on the ground.

A glance is cat towards Att. Smiling faintly, he asks, "Fire, do you think?"

Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     Ah, the nostalgic taste of grass and waves. The sharp salt in the fickle wind that blows around a long white scarf. The breeze that carries with it the water's chill. This sepia-toned landscape, broken only by the elements of the new world - the pirate camp and its ships. If it wasn't for that it would be a picturesque view fit for a high school summer trip.

     Though Shin isn't dressed for a summer trip. His outfit's a mundane green Westelande jacket and pants, the only bit of real detail the white scarf itself and the strange stone belt buckle at the front of his belly. He's got no weapons equipped, no armor. Just a scarf and that weird belt buckle.

     "Ah, are we doing it by surprise..." Shin frowns, pursed lips under unruly brown hair. "I guess that's efficient but it doesn't seem like it's the way you're supposed to do it."

     Shin's hands go behind his neck, accompanying a big 'Hello-Yes-I'm-A-Shonen-Protagonist' grin. "I know I'm new, but doesn't it seem like it would be more interesting if we just beat the heck out of them?" Oh God he even says 'beat the heck out of them.' Probably because Toku Heroes don't swear around kids.

     "Besides, a head-on challenge feels a lot more appropriate to fighting pirates. Aren't you supposed to swashbuckles, or something like that, when you're doing stuff with pirates?" He laughs. "It's been a while since I had to study that stuff."
Whiskey Sour
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Ah, the idyllic Isle of Beginnings. Plenty of fun for parties of 1-3 from levels 1-5. A starter experience, for a starter character.

Which is why Whis is downright confused at the number of Adventurers skulking around talking strategy about the odd pirate ship in the distance, and the bandit camp's defenses. Fiddling with her inventory for a few minutes, and then fiddling with a belt of pockets and vials for a few more moments, Whiskey engages in the pre-raid dance of making sure she didn't forget to repair. Looking at the assembled number, Whis deadpans as Att suggest arson.

"I didn't know the Isle of Beginnings had large party raid content. This is certainly new." Whis observes darkly, chewing on her bottom lip before the sheer number of people putting forward ideas reminds her: "Oh - I'm Whiskey. Thank you for adding me to your party - please take care of me."

She nods, first to Yuuki, and then to Att and V. "I also suggest sneaking, and then fire."
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     "Oh, yeah, right! Introductions."

     Shin puts on a *huge* grin. "Shin Heno. I'm..."

     "A Hero of Justice."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Mizuki looks at Yuuki. "Oh, sorry... well, I've been comparing notes on the Rat and Spider quests, and these things usually aren't exactly the same on a second run-through. Sometimes the variations can be quite surprising and shocking!"

    And then, there's Att Sign. "...If we could buy them off once and they'd never bother people again, that's not such a bad idea. But they're bandits, what's to stop them taking the money, laying low for a day or two, and then going right back to it?"

    "I'm getting a sense everyone wants to fight here. I'm okay with that, just give me a shot to sneak behind them first so I can get that backstab bonus."

    Shin Heno introduces himself. "I'm Mizuki! I'm a ninja." She glances at Proteus and Att. "A heroic ninja." She turns back towards the camp.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

To adventure!

Or at least, to setting things on fire. There is a lot of votes for such things, and Nureha will certainly not disabuse them of the notion. She smiles at Att Syne, replying. "Enough that our numbers are a comfort rather than a hinderance." to Kirito. "We'll have to see how it really plays out though. The world keeps throwing little surprises at us. I doubt it will stop now."

However much Fire is such a potent option, it might be wise to pair it with another option in the course of properly linking the combo. After pooling the group's knowledge, they advance to a secret entrance through a tunnel in the direction of the camp.

However, it's locked, complete with a obscure locking puzzle. This must truely be a Lucas-arts era adventure game. Now if only the bandits could be defeated by insulting their fighting style. Maybe that's a secret easter egg to be later unlocked. But as this is the blind run, it will just have to be done the long way around. Nureha takes a look at the arcane runic markings on the stones. There is a flash of energy, a purple glyph hovering over her face around a stylized eye for a second as she examines that particular part of the room.
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     Shin laughs. It's an easygoing laugh, a Newbie Laugh. This isn't somebody who's been taking the game seriously for years and years. It's a guy who logged on *maybe* just before the Apocalypse. "If you say so!"

     He is less easygoing when it comes to figuring out where the heck they're going. His attempts to puzzle out directions to the secret entrance, and keep some sort of spatial geometry in his head, go *completely* awry. He's got nothing. Shin didn't exactly spend much of his life underground, after all!

     So he's content to just sort of follow along behind the rest of the party, one hand in his pocket, the other fiddling with the stone belt buckle idly, a big, eager grin on his face.
Count V
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"I'm not much of a sneaker, myself." Count V asides to Whiskey, falling silent as they reach the closed gate. Immediately his attention is drawn towards the panel and its indentation-- and then towards the stones on the ground, with their unusual shapes. After a moment of observation he begins to shuffle the rocks around into a single row. To anyone who is joining in on the keystone puzzle, he says:

"Stones that match better should be relocated to the right. Stones that don't look like they match at all should go to the left."

Having offered his opinion on the organization of figuring out this puzzle, V himself sets off to work. He manages to rule out a fair few practically immediately, narrowing down the possibilities significantly. One or two are pushed to the right, but he gets stuck examining the remaining possibilities that are 'undecided'.

He hums thoughtfully to himself, and adds to those who haven't wandered off to other objective markers, "So sorry to be rude. I get tunnel vision when it comes to these sorts of things, and forget I'm in company. It is a pleasure to meet you, and I am Count V."

"In this case," V adds, tapping back and forth between two possible keystones that are giving him trouble, "Count Vexed, I think."

Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Mizuki heads to the 'secret' entrance that everybody's heard of, as part of the whole 'sneaking around behind them' thing.

    It's a lock. Simple enough, right? "Finally, a chance for the 'thief' profession to be used constructively..." Approaching the gate, she gets out a lockpick and starts that minigame!

    Click. Click. Click. Clink! "Shit, the tumblers fell down. Hang on..."

    Click... click... click...
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

A somewhat stealthy mission is preferable for an assassin. Although that's not really her class, she has the looks and the sneaks of it. She doesn't want to crash through the door anyway.

She leaves it to the others to map out the route right now, she decides to go for picking the gate open... which proves difficult but doable at least. She ends up assisting Mizuki at the task for now, not needing to crowd the door at least.

She nods to Mizuki "We've repeated these quests often, looking for patterns in the monsters, difficulty and rewards. How you tackle them depends on your party's composition. A highly powered team might just charge in, while a lighter, sneakier team can limit the encounters instead."

She can't help but talk about it in game terms really, because that's more or less how things work... even if they feel more real every day.

"And I'm Reika, an Idol. Well, outside of here at least. In this game... I'm an Enchanter, I suppose." ALthough she's also dressed like a ninja. She's sitll working on the rest of her skillset.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Introductions are going around, and the Imp shifts under her cloak, a blue hand coming up to tug the hood further over her head, keeping it shadowed. Still, the shadow does nothing to hide the purple eyes and bladelike smile within. "Proteus." She introduces herself. "Archaeologist, support specialist." She says simply... And her eyes flick over to rest on Yuuki. That smile fades for a moment, replaced with surprise... But she says nothing, looking away.

"There's no reason to hold back. If these guys came back and started doing it again, there's no reason to not eliminate them this time, right?" She says, shrugging. "Don't worry Mizuki, we have several people here who can hold threat so you can flank."

The group moves around the side of the base to find a secret passage, and are confronted with a code. Proteus is immediately drawn to the runic markings on the stones as she hunches, looking over one, then the next. "All right, this looks like a derivative of... And the basis for that is..." She looks to the next, and another. "Variant... Danger? Yes. Danger." As per Count V's suggestion, she rapidly begins sorting stones to the left and right, helpding to correlate several of the stones and sort them accordingly.

She speaks to herself as she continues to move along the stones, her fingers not quite touching them as she works. "No... no... Hmm. Maybe when considered in the context of... Ah." She picks up one of the stones and tosses it to Nureha. "It means 'Friend'." She says. "This one looks appropriate."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kirito nods lightly to Nureha, before focusing on the enemies ahead. "Its not like the old days anymore. Now its like a completely different world where your decisions matter and the consequences swifter." he narrows his eyes.

All the same, he keeps hearing fire and stealth, with only a few options for direct combat, Kirito nods. "Then its decided. We step lightly." He gets moving, and eventually the group finds the secret entrance. "Hm. I'm bad at these sorts of things."
Att Syne
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"That's why I suggested fire," Att tells Mizuki, casting a smirk in V's direction, "and not bribery. It's cool, though. We'll see what comes up. If there's an opportunity for fire --" He stops, glancing at Whiskey, then tilting his head a little in acknowledgement. "-- sneaking, /then/ fire, we'll see what we can do to clean stuff up a bit faster and easier."

Introductions? A blink. "Uh..." He holds his hand above his head, pointing at the space a couple inches higher.

                                <Plant Hwyaden>                                
                                    Att Syne                                    

Oh, right. Inspect.

Att stops outside the entrance. He leans over the stones and examines the marks alongside Proteus. He scratches his head a little, then walks over to the depression, running a finger around the edge. He turns back again. "Proteus is probably right," he says. That's it. That's his contribution. Good job, Att.
Whiskey Sour
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

It appears 'sneaking, and then arson' is the vote! Whiskey is happy to follow with the far more sneaking-capable members of their large party - and given ample opportunity, offers a few nonsequiters.

"A heroic ninja? I don't think the pirates qualify as tyrannical lords. Well..." Shin's announcement gets a quiet exhalation of breath that sounds like a single 'hee'. "Maybe you'll find an evil star to steal into the castle of. That would be funny, wouldn't it?"

Carrying on, Count 'Vexed' comments he's not good at sneaking, getting a broad shrug from Whiskey. "It can't be helped. Parties are about presenting a better whole then, aren't they?"

She leans over, placing a hand to the side of her mouth to stage whisper. "I think some of these people played the earlier version, so we should be fine." Her words aren't actually clandestine at all, merely having the character of a faux veil.

Coming across the keys, Whis crouches down by the one that V indicates, toeing one off to the left, before squinting at a second. Tapping the key's surface, she whispers a rhyme. "Key, key, on the ground, in the lock, get a frown?"

A tiny sprite pops into life, crawling out of the surface of the key, and then sadly nods.

She toes that key to the left as well. "Not that one either. Oh, the heroic ninja can just pick the lock. Wonderful."

Whis claps softly for the click of locks until Mizuki complains about letting the tumbler reset.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Wow there's lots of people here. Yuuki chuckles, "This miiiiiight be a bit of overkill for this quest!" Although she's liking the suggestions of fire! She has fire. Bring on the fire!

    As they head down towards the camp, Yuuki notices that introductions are going around. So Yuuki spins around to walk backwards, raising a finger and exclaiming, "I'm Yuuki! I'm a guild leader. And pretty handy with a sword. And... Nope. That's about it!" Yuuki grins, spinning around once again.

    Unfortunately, the secret entrance they decide to approach doesn't look like it will accept fire. Yuuki stands defiantly in front of the locked door, pondering the dilemma, "Maybe it needs a secret keyword to open... Hmmmm. Open sesame!" Nope. "Open up!" Nada. "C'mon, open, damn you!" Negative. "Please?" Negatory. "Shazam?" No. "Wallawalla?" Natch.

    Yuuki seems oblivious to the stone hunt.
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     Shin, cheerfully, says "Open, Pureeze!" in the door's direction and waves his hand in front of his belt.

     Nothing happens.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Shin Heno doesn't get very far with the directions to the logic puzzle laid out before them. Nureha, her newbie senses tingling, gets his attention and with the polite but firm air of a older sister, runs him through the steps of diagnosing the puzzle one stage at a time so that he can do it himself when confronted with this type again. "You don't need Arcane Eye to see the triggers, but it certainly helps."

She gives him a warm smile before turning to Count V. She doesn't patronize them either, she looks at the arrangement and smiles. "This one needs.. hmm." she gestures to the one on the left, whether or not it's the correct one, a choice has been made. Sometimes it's better to choose, even incorrectly, than get caught in a loop.

However, the stone is scooped up and Nureha catches it, peering at it spectulatively and looking at the entire context of the stones and the message, silently checking Proteus's shuffling before giving them a smile. Att Syne makes his contribution and Nureha gives him a smile as well. She raises the stone and hands it to Shin Heno. "After you."

Mizuki and Reika's efforts to play the lock picking mini-game are a success, but only after a great deal of fiddling, finagling and that one LAST tumbler scraping out of reach three times before being pushed into position with a satisfying click.

It takes awhile to get everyone's efforts together for the runic puzzle or the lock. Yuuki goes through her ENTIRE store of Keywords and Secret Phrases and has started descending into increasingly esoteric swears when the door, opened by a combination effort of both puzzle and key, finally submits to the inevitable and groans open.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kirito actually looks surprised when the door opens. "Wow, we actually managed to make it through." he rubs the back of his neck though. "Sorry I wasn't very helpful in that endeavor." he totally intends to give Yuuki a fist bump for her hard work in that department.

All the same, he'll follow along wit hthe party, being one of the first ones to walk through the door that opens up, reaching for his swords in case they are given a very unwelcome arrival. "Dunno if there's anybody home..." his eyes narrow, though he completely fails a legend-related challenge, a sigh escaping his face.

"Something tells me that we won't have the easiest time with this quest today."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The next thing that happens is another critical hit to the feels. Hungry little children being used by the bandits as pickpockets, beggars and scouts.

Angry Fox Boss-Mode Engaged She draws herself up in her unremarkable grey clothes, pushing her hair back as she looks for one of the leaders amongst the children, her eyes dart from face to face, fearing that if they approached this wrong, they could very easily be mobbed or the children could bolt, fearing the lash more than what the adventurers could offer them.

She settles down in a swirl of fabric, talking firmly but earnestly to the one in front of her about the bandits, asking for their names and offering (carefully) small bits of food from her inventory.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    "-and the pegasus you rode in on!"

    Yuuki takes in a deep breath after that long insult against the door. At which point it finally opens. Yuuki phews, "Finally got it!" Yuuki turns to look smugly at the rest out of the group, returning Kirito's fistbump. But she then pauses as she sees all the discarded stones, "Hey, what are those?"

    Moving on. The group head further into the camp by way of the secret entrance. Surely this will let them surprise the bandits. But suddenly, they are confronted by several mini-bandits! Finally, a fight!

    Yuuki looks closer, "Wait... Those are kids? What are they doing here?" One of them approaches Yuuki, asking for food. Yuuki crouches down, "Food? Hmmm... I think I have some!"

    Yuuki's hand moves behind her back, where she rifles around for a bit. She then pulls out a HP potion, "Noooo..." She puts it back. More rifling. She pulls out a dagger, "Definitely not..." More rifling. Yuuki blinks as she produces a human skull, "When did I loot that?" Shrug, puts it back.

    Finally Yuuki produces a loaf of bread. Yuuki proceeds to break a piece off and hand it to the child. Then another shows up, so Yuuki breaks another piece off. And then another. And another.

    Yuuki cries out with some mild concern, "Help! I keep pulling adds!"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Reika looks over to Yuuki "More people doesn't necessarily make it easier... depends on what we find in here."

And then, kids... begging too. They are supposed to be raiding this place, so she's not sure how to handle this right off. But she tries speaking to one "Shhh, we'll get you out of here soon. Sorry, I have nothing on me."

That may or may not work... if not, the kids oculd alert who ever is deeper in, and then it'd be a battlezone. Goodby sneaking.
Count V
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Sometimes the secret keyword thing /does/ work." Count V says to Yuuki and Shin, "So don't be discouraged. I always like it when games make speaking aloud a part of their mechanics."

He glances back towards Whiskey, "You're quite right. We're fortunate to have competent allies in this. I don't mind the frontal approach, though it is a lot more bold than I was used to. Careful pulls were part and parcel of my original gaming experience, after all."

"Cute spell." He adds, cheerily.

Count V is quick to join Nureha in engaging the children, kneeling down next to her and adding a few stray snacks to the bribery. It is, though, most definitely Mass Produced Food that he doesn't find apetitizing himself and assumes it's probably okay for the A.I. children.

Most of what helps his engagement, though, is his scarf. It begins to gleam faintly as he interacts with them...
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

As everything falls into place, Proteus resumes her little smile. This was her element. She nods to Yuuki, and simply shruge. "The stones were half of the puzzle, apparently." She says. "Don't worry, you'll have things to apply your blade to soon enough." She is confident, now. Almost smarmy, really.

At least, until they get into the next area, filled with hungry, dirty kids. "This... isn't what I was expecting to see. Why would a bunch of bandits keep kids around?" She asks, her stance now more wary as she looks over the urchins. "This is not what I meant." She asides to Yuuki.

Of course, they want food and coin. With a sweep of her hand, she opens her inventory and produces... A sandwich. It's been in her inventory a while, and of course suffers from the problems of prepared food. She holds it out, offering it to them. "Here. It's not much, but it should help." But would even Landers appreciate the cuisine of soggy cracker-tasting food?

Of course, because she's not dealing with them properly, the sandwich is yoinked before she can parcel it out to several of them, keeping her from being efficient with her food-based bribery...
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     Begging children.

     Shin scratches the back of his head. He doesn't really...*have* anything to offer. No food, no nothing. He's not really mastered this whole 'carrying random crap' around thing yet. It's a skill! You get used to it when you've played a lot of games.

     It's one of those little signs that he's a total newbie, where when the kids run up to him, he turns his pockets inside-out and just looks disappointed. "Sorry."

     Shin kneels down and grins, patting one of the orphans on the shoulder. "But don't worry. We're gonna help you anyway."

     A big grin, and a thumbs-up. "That's what Heroes of Justice are for. So don't cry, OK? Be strong."
Att Syne
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Att is accosted by hungry children and pickpockets. He knows he's accosted by the second because he catches one trying to run his pockets. He's got a lanky boy by the wrist, hauling him out in front of him with the Baleful Eye of the Schoolteacher. "What do ye think you're doing, now?" His accent is momentarily in force. The weird translation power of whatever's going on in this game-world makes it not-incomprehensible to the people hearing him speak Japanese, but boy is it strange.

The boy stammers. Att releases him with a short, sharp motion, sending him stumbling back. He puts a hand down to check his pockets, and comes away with a broad silver coin, holding it up. "This it? Eh?" The boy looks greedily at it.

Att takes a deep breath and sighs. He sounds... normal, now. "Listen. This is about what you'd expect to get from pilfering a merchant's pockets. Hold onto it. If we don't take care of the people keepin' you here, take it and your friends and get behind town walls. Alright?"

The boy nods. Att passes him the coin, and he scampers away. It's a small victory, but he'll take it anyway.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Inside the gate...

    Last time, the camp was clearly a large operation. But this time... there are civilians? /Children/ living here?

    Before, she'd have taken it for the plot twist it was, offered them some food, and thought no more of it. But now...

    Kite says, 'The landers are just as real as you are now. We're all data entities living in a computer now.'

    Well, that was the jist of what Kite was saying, anyway.

    Now she has to wonder: Where did these children come from? Were they spawned by the quest? Were they pulled from elsewhere? Or, somehow, despite this LOOKING like a quest, did it actually happen entirely organically?

    Well. Not entirely, of course. This WAS a game, before the apocalypse. Perhaps the events leading to many of the quests they've been encountering... and many of the quests they've yet to encounter, were all set in motion then? It sounds incredibly complex, but if CC Corp did all this... what's a little more computing power improbability?

    As for the immediate issue of the children, though... Mizuki mostly eats raw ingredients dropped by monsters, but she carries some normal food to fall back on; it's the latter she now offers, bits of bread and rations.

    "Don't worry, kids! Look, I'm just a big friendly kitty! Big sis Mizuki has food for you..."

    As she holds out the food, she asks questions they may or may not answer. "How did you get here? Why can't you go live in one of the cities? Oh wait traveling's dangerous... well, we could escort you to Carmina Gadelica if you wanted..."
Whiskey Sour
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

All is well, all is good. The plan goes off without a hitch, even with the larger than average party!

"Well, if things continue this way, we won't have any problems. Won't that be nice?" She beams at the while party, before adding a quick "Thanks!" to Count V's praise of her 'cute spell'.

Too bad it doesn't continue like that.

A gaggle of urchins begging for food (or money) stops up Whis, as this challenge is outside her purported skillsets! The children are not hurt and requiring healing, nor are they being meanaced by terrible monsters. They're just hungry. Maybe maybe maybe---

Rummaging through her pockets and pouches, she finds-- "Bitter root, weird mushroom, vial of goo..." Whis mutters, moving through her collection growing more and more forlorn.

What's the most edible thing she has?

"Would you like... wwwwweird mushroom?" She asks, haltingly, drawing out a mushroom with a black cap with a white skull emblem. Looking at it, for a second, she puts away the Weird Mushroom. "On second thought, I'm sorry, no. Nobody wants Weird Mushroom."

Beat. "For eating."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Some of the crowd of children come forward to Nureha and Count V, telling their names before quietly running off with their prizes. More and more children come to Yuuki until she's out of food, and though the satisfied children run off there's now a crowd of hungry little ones around her. The pickpocket Att Syne caught isn't telling on anyone.

    Others are crowded around too, but the children are disappointed by those who have nothing, the kids end up fighting over Proteus's sandwich, the children just make a face at Whiskey's offering, and Mizuki's fangy smile elicits screams and running away because she's a freaking tiger and these kids haven't been raised on cartoons and cereal commercials.

    The commotion draws the attention of some hostile guards who don't give the party a chance to negotiate; Nothing the party can't handle, but just enough to leave them down a bit on HP and MP. They don't even give good loot! Party members who run away end up tired or tripping over something in the camp and injuring themselves. And they're still out the food they gave away, too...

    Just when they think they're safe, they hear a shout from nearby... but the kobold isn't a guard, he's... a bartender? "You wish to try? Very strong. You strong. You challenge!" He grins at the party and sets out some glasses of strange, green liquid.

    "You again." mutters Mizuki. Is that racist? Is this even the same kobold? She can't tell. The cat-ninja just sighs and starts IDing the various drinks available, downing the one with the lowest intoxication value.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Sidequest: Activate -- Drink Of The Damned.

Nureha, despite her usual caution, is a completionist and as such cannot avoid the lure that is 100% Completion. No matter the side quest. No matter the hardship, there is a fox at the bottom of it.

Unfortunately, this time there is also a Fox who miscalculated the specific timing of the 'Drunk' debuff and, unable to keep up with the timer, now has little bubbles floating over her head as a result. She hiccupts daintily, drawing a hand to her mouth with half-lidded eyes. She nearly falls out of the chair she sat down on. "..Oh.. dear." she murmurs, looking into the bottom of her emptied stein. "..I appear to have.. slightly.." she mumbles a word that 'miscalculated' SHOULD be, at least on a good day. Today is not a good day.
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     The fat-looking kobold challenges them to a drinking contest.

     Shin's face splits into a wide grin. He puts one arm on his shoulder and rolls it like an athlete stretching. "You sure you wanna do that?"

     "I don't think you wanna do that!"

     Each step is one of certainty, of sureity, as he moves over to sit across from the Kobold. His brown eyes remain locked firmly on the fat beast's, his grin widening. "I gotta warn you, though. I can really hold my liquor."

     "Although a Hero of Justice shouldn't be drinking in front of kids..." He lowers his head. "It can't be helped this time!"



     The mug hits the table once, a strange ritual, accompanied by him knocking the drink back in one go. Another thump as the mug hits the table. "Wheeeeew! That's good! Gimme another!"

     Thump. The mug is held out for another pour. When it's refilled, he raises it with another, extremely-cheerful, energetic "KAMPAI!"





     "C'mon! I can do this all night! KAMPAI!"


     Thump thump. "Is that all you got? Huh?! All that fat and you can't even drink a skinny guy like me under the table?! C'mon now! Some more!"



     "You better pick up the pace, big guy!" Shin leans forward. "Is this supposed to be a contest? Maybe you should give me a better challenge, huh?!"



     This man is *definitely* a very practiced drinker. When Nureha nearly falls over, Shin just sticks out his hand to catch her, again with the practice of someone who has had to do that many times.



     He gently pushes Nureha back into the seat. "Don't wanna fall off, ma'am. It hurts to fall when you're smashed."



     He *literally* could do this all day.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Data or not, there's something that keeps Proteus from simply dismissing the Lander children out of hand. She gives what she can, but it ends up a bit of a ruckus. Proteus beats feet from the rambunctious beggars and pickpockets (wait, gotta check my wallet), and bails out...

Into a tavern. "What the...?" Proteus says, looking up at the Lander bartender. "Is... the drink going to taste like rice cake too?" She mutters. She's been drinking water for ages. Still, she is challenged to drink the wares of the piratical bartender kobold, and she grimaces. Putting up a ruckus right now... Shin seems to be doing fine knocking them back, but seeing Nureha waver gives her pause. The drinks must be different...

Proteus scans her eyes over the different drinks. Nothing outwardly indicates which is which, but there is a change in shading, the depth of color... That one.

She picks up the tankard and takes a drink... And suddenly the world around her is spinning. "Gggh... What did I just drink...?" She hisses, staggering backwards. "Shin, you must have the gut of a demon. This stuff is powerful..."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    "Don't worry. I wouldn't use my blade on a kid!" Yuuki smiles at Proteus.

    Though they are getting rather rowdy in their demands for food. So Yuuki glances around. Spotting a nearby bandit banner, Yuuki leaps towards it out of the group of children mobbing her.

    Yuuki grabs the banner, swings around, then releases it to land on a nearby platform. Phew. She's free of those hungry rascals. She already gave them lots of food! What more did they want?

    Yuuki walks along the platform, head turning left and right as she tries to spot some actual bandits. There's some shouting as apparently they've been discovered! Yuuki grins, drawing her sword as some bandits rush up some stairs to attack her, "Finally!"


    Yuuki walks up to the bar, looking satisfied. But then she realises they need to drink this now? Yuuki hmmmms quietly as she leans against the bar, "This is a weird quest..." Yuuki looks at the green liquid in the shot glass. Yuuki hehs, "I guess the dev must have been drunk when they came up with this." Yuuki takes the glass and pours it into her mouth.

    "Wh-wha... Why is ewerywone looking sho word?"

    Yuuki stumbles around a few steps, before falling against Nureha's chair with a hic. Leaning against it, Yuuki looks at Nureha. She then starts patting the Cait Sith's shoulder, "Hey. Hey. Hey. Y'know... You're good, y'know? Shome dun undershtand. But I shsee it!" When will this debuff ennnnnnnnd!?
Att Syne
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Att feels conflicted about the kids. On the one hand, they're kids... but on the other, they're *Lander* kids. It's like being conflicted over a particularly well-designed NPC in a single-player game. They're just tugging at his heartstrings because they're reasonably realistic, and in fact, were probably put here for that express purpose. Bastard devs.

He's in kind of an irritated mood when they run into the kobold. The 'let's just play along' attitude of everyone else makes him hesitantly take up a glass, wait for Shin to get the bartender's attention with his energetic and experienced pounding of drinks, and then just... craft it into a watered-down version of what he's been given. He follows it up with an Antidote chaser, and reaches out to take Proteus by the arm and keep her from staggering into an unfortunate position in the camp they're sneaking into. "Wait for the debuff to wear out. It's kind of crappy." Follow-up is worse, he doesn't add.
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     Shin, in-between his drinks, grins at Proteus. "It's practice! Besides, a Hero of Justice can't be seen falling over from a little problem like this!" He says. "KAMPAI!"

Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

So, that's whats happening now. Drinking contest.

Kirito is spiritually facepalming repeatedly. But, at any rate, Kirito just kinda stands there as he waits for the result. "Ifthe kobold has a status effect, you may get overwhelmed." he tries to warn Shin that skills and drinking are a two-way street, but he largely stays out of it until a winner is declared.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Nureha clears her throat, but still fails to shake off the drunk debuff but not in time to prevent being petted. "Hey.. Heeeeeey." she says in a very low, sultry whisper. "That's... that's the nicest thing any... anyo.. it's. It's so--" she tears up, becoming a mutual 'Pat Pat' Fox of Mystery (Though the Mystery this time is how she manages to stay conscious when hammered with that many stacks of 'Drunk')

"Y,. you're.. my hero." She mumbles at Shin as he steadies her. Repeatedly.
Count V
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Sounds like all the ingredients of a potion you haven't quite put together yet." Count V remarks to Whis.

The arrival of hostiles prompts V to get up and enter a formation-- he doesn't put himself quite at the back, but he makes certain that he's not at the front line, either. By the time he finishes, he's a little branged up and frazzled looking. Tucking his staff under his arm once more, V re-adjusts his scarf and issues a heavy sigh. It's hard to be a "lowbie" again. He wonders, distantly, if these children are persistent and if they would remember anything if he returned later. Probably not, though... this place would need to reset in some form for the next Adventurers, wouldn't it?

He's not sure.

The staff returns to his hand in short order, around the time that a call to attention comes from nearby. Count V blinks towards the kobold bartender, tilting his head slightly to the side. His eyes slide from Mizuki, to the bartender, and back again. Shrugging, he steps forward and seizes one of the glasses with his free hand.

There's a faint hint of an echo as he tilts the glass back, whispering something to it.

Count V begins drinking, and as the liquid reaches his lips it turns to water. It's a comical amount of time later that he actually puts the glass down and 'finishes' his tasting.

"It's a bit much, isn't it?" He asks of those who are getting hammered badly.

Secretly, V rarely drinks anything more 'hard' than champagne, and he really did need to turn that rotgut to water to get through it.

Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     "I'm everyone's Hero," Shin says at Nureha, because there's no way he's missing that cue.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Nureha mumbles. "Well. Tell them I won't share." as the final few stacks tick down.
Whiskey Sour
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

It is OK. Nobody wanted Weird Mushroom.

Whis will shed a single tear about this... Later. Instead, she enters a bar.

Instead of tensing, she actually *relaxes* after Confrontation With Urchin x(Many) transitions into KOGOBLIN BAR with a Drinking Minigame.

"Hiiiiii!" she calls to the owner, sliding up to the front table like a college girl oozing towards the bar. "Owner, owner, give me a good one!" She calls cheerfully, holding up her hand and waving until that hand is furnished with a frothing brew. A bubbling concoction. It looks awful, and yet, she swirls place with it.

As her back is turned to the 'owner', her hands flash blue, and a haze of magic smokes in her wake, waved off by the time she slams it down on the counter with a splash, sits down next to Shin, and starts guzzling.

Like a trash can or a drainpipe, the oozey sludge enters her and with an airless 'ulp', disappears.

She knocks her glass down next to one in Shin's pile and claps a hand on Shin's shoulder. "As long as it's free, that's good enough for me!"

The turned it into something drinkable, obviously. It's the only way to be sure.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Reika frowns a bit at the bartender. A kobold? Well, he's talking... and not hostile. And offering drinks? That's one odd way of fighting through, but at least. How does she handle hers? Watering it down, hopefully in a subtle way. She's not a drinker, she's not even drinking age in Japan after all. Does that even count in a video game?

Using her own magic, she sneakily ends up replacing the drink almost entirely with water. She sweatdrops at Shin though. Well, he can handle it, it seems...

The Kobold Bartender grins as the large group decide to go for the drinks. He laughs heartily at Nureha, Yuuki and Proteus getting dizzy "You no hold drinks, me win!" He barks

It doesn't seem like he realizes it if anyone changed theirs, he's just happy that they are drinking. Eventually just focusing on Shin as he dunks each of them down, the bartender refilling the glass every time, thumping on his chest happily even as someone puts up a good fight... until he runs out of drink in his bottle. Then he blinks, and stars at the bottle in slight confusion "Huh? Empty? That no good." He grumps and leaves to get some new bottles.... giving everyone the chance to sneak away finally.

If there was any kids following, they probably run away as the group enters the next room, a very large beastman towering in a seat as large as him, and he's still sitting! He gets up slowly when the group arrives though, picking up the large scimitar next to him and scraping it along the ground in a teeth gritting noise. "End for you." He states simply, preparing to attack.

Seconds later, there's a cry from the bartender in the distance "WHY YOU LEAVE?!"
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     "Right?" Whis gets it. Whis understands. When you're at a drinking party and somebody else is paying the bill, you fucking well drink until you can't drink anymore. Anything else would be rude. And Shin could keep drinking for a *while*.

     Nureha says she doesn't want to share in the middle of a shot. Shin sputters into his mug. When it hits, he's coughing. By the time he gets up, his face is bright red. The Kobold gave them an opportunity to leave and he's gonna take it. That stuff tastes *awful*.

     Not that he couldn't keep going. Like Whis said!

     Shin takes a bit of a lead as they go - mostly because everybody else appears to be either super drunk, and also to put a bit of distance between him and Nureha, as he is about as socially competent here as...well, as a Shonen Protagonist.

     The monster comes in swinging. It's a big damn blade.


     Two feet touch down on the scimitar's broad back in the middle of the backswing.

     "Hmmm. I think it's gonna take a lot more than something like you to bring down the start of my legend, huh?"

     Shin grabs his scarf in one hand as the thing starts another swing. He jumps forward to catch it by the face, to blind it for a moment so everybody else can get their hits in. It's the most useful thing he can do, given the circumstances!
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    The drunk debuff finally ends for Yuuki, who blinks. Then groans quietly, moving a hand to hold her head. She wonders out loud, "... Is that what getting drunk feels like?" Pause. "WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT INTENTIONALLY!?" Yuuki gives the bartender a hard stare, her devilish tail pointing straight in annoyance. She moves her hand to the hilt of her sword...

    Yuuki turns and walks away in a huff, deciding not to take out her annoyance on the poor quest NPC. Her hand is still gripping her sword dangerously as she stalks through the camp. She's obviously emanating an aura that says 'Don't mess with me right now!' which keeps most of the bandits at bay.

    Coming upon scimitar wielding boss, surely Yuuki will be excited now?


    Yuuki crosses her arms as she stares down the Bodyguard, "You're just a stepping stone. Go get your boss!" Yuuki is itching for the boss fight after that rather annoying last encounter.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Mizuki, much like Shin, keeps pouring her drink and downing it, but isn't making as much of a show of it.

    Honestly she feels like she SHOULD be, so maybe next time. Is she supposed to RP getting drunk, or something?

    Some of the others don't look like they're RPing, though... And honestly the idea of getting drunk here is pretty concerning. Something could happen to her, or she could accidentally burn the camp down, kids and all, with Adventurer powers. It's heartening to see Att Syne keeping watch on Proteus, though.

    She moves next to him. "This feels like an awkward moment at a D&D game, except we're in a real bandit camp. D'you think real heroes on important missions actually do stuff like have a drinking competition in the middle of a mission? Although, it's stopping him from calling more guards, so I guess there's that..."

    When Yuuki comments that being drunk seems like a terrible idea, Mizuki shoots over a "RIGHT?!"

    When they finally sneak away, she helps carry anyone who's having trouble with walking in a straight line.

    ...Until they come up to the body guard. "This guy wasn't here last time..." she mutters.

    After dodging his big, heavy, but slow swings a couple of times, she decides to just go full-on AGI tank. With ninja speed she dodges this way and that, sometimes using air or water to pull off impossible manoeuvres and sometimes adding insult to injury by leaping onto the giant hammer or running up the massive beastman's body to stab him.

    "You're too slow!"

    "Buddy, I think you missed hammer time by like 20 years. That's how slow you are."

    "You're a hundred years too late to keep up with me!"

    Okay, she's actually having fun running around and quipping. It's a pleasant distraction from the whole 'trapped in a game' situation.

    As the fight goes on and she starts running out of quips, after the third or fourth 'You're too slo-ow!' she starts poking fun at herself by referring to the sloth as 'Robuttnik' in insults and, once the fight is over, cheerfully remarking that 'Okay, that felt way past cool.'
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Well, that was embarrassing.

Nureha comes back to some semblance of clarity as the last few stacks tick down to zero. She sits very still, leaning her staff against one shoulder until the room stops spinning. She actually kind of glad that Shin goes first because then she doesn't have to make eye contact. That might be bad, considering what he might see there. Then, with what remains of her dignity she stands up and moves across the tavern deeper into the bandit camp. Some are smart enough to avoid her slightly menacing smile, while others?

Other obstacles fall into line eventually. One way or another.

"You might want to listen to her." Nureha says with polite diffidence as she gestures to Yuuki, but the beastman doesn't seem to listen. She steps just barely out of range of the scimitar, chased multiple slashes that hit nothing but air. "Ah well." she says mildly. "Too late now, I suppose."
Att Syne
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Whatever works, right?" Att shrugs a shoulder towards Mizuki, voice low. "They're not particularly organized, or at least not loyal enough to the cause of banditry to really screw with us while we're doing this. Although, who says we're not the 'real heroes' now? Maybe we're setting precedent." He puts his glass down with a quiet 'click.'

Att waits for the debuff to tick down further on both himself and Proteus. It gets to a point where he's got some lingering fuzziness but little physical issues besides, and he takes the opportunity to slip out of the bar, jerking his head for the others to follow, if they look too intoxicated to get the clue themselves. He's got plenty of distance before the kobold raises the alarm, which means that he should --

-- dodge. Right. /Now/.

Att Syne throws himself into a classic forward roll, a perfect example of a real-ass dodge roll going underneath the scimitar that nearly-but-doesn't-actually bisect Shin. He comes out the other side, skids, turns on his heel, and has his staff up in a defensive posture immediately. Instead of actually laying into the guy, he makes threatening motions and then focuses entirely on the defense, letting other people in to harass the mini-boss.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kirito's eyes widen suddenly when it appears as though things are starting to escalate. when he looks towards Yuuki. "Yep. Its not very fun." he looks at some of the others. "No clue why anybody would want to keep doing that intentionally." He looks at the boss then, before he just draws his swords proper in preparation for a fight.

He has an instinct to move out of the way, and move out of the way he does, moving with such speed that he used the Lightningstep technique, a thunderous boom perhaps stunning a few enemies as he moves out of the way of the massive scimitar.

"Work together! Take them down one at a time. May want to help deal with the minions so we don't aggro them into the fight, otherwise, we can just focus all our attention on the boss."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The kobold leaves, and the debuffed Proteus staggers out, trying to follow the double vision of Shin (who seems just fine) on the way out. She might or might not end up leaning on Nureha in that way mutually drunk people do. On Att's suggestion she tries waiting the debilitating effects out, but getting out before the kobold gets back with the sword is important.

As they leave, Proteus' movements become more sure and stable, and she grimaces, sighing. Yuuki exclaims what the Imp is thinking, but the Imp has a response. "Because they have to." She replies to Yuuki. "People go out and socialize together and you're expected to be part of that. Most people socialize over drinking."

Though the sight of the Absolute Blade simply demanding to see the bodyguard's boss does manage to draw out a little chuckle from Proteus. "Is this really what you are going to do... Absolute Blade?" She grimaces, and then Mizuki bounces around in a strangely familiar manner. "Are you sure you're a cat?" Proteus asks the ninja from her position. The bodyguard slashes towards her, and the Imp presses a point in the air and makes a quick gesture, water exploding out under her as she abruptly strafes to one side, bending backwards as the blade sings right over her front.

"Not so simple." She says in response. Somehow, taunting a Lander mob isn't so fun when a splitting headache is setting in.
Count V
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"W-e-e-llllll..." Count V begins, in answer to Yuuki's objections about the drink. He scratches at his head with the wings on his staff, "There are a lot of reasons for it. Historically it has a lot to do with the sanitation of water. Alcohol kills a lot of bad things that get in the water, you see? So you could make a drink with alcohol, and it would be safe. That doesn't apply in more modern times, of course. At least, not in Japan."

"But the feeling that people are /looking/ for is the state of looseness." He raises his staff up to wave it around in the air, "Like being quite sleepy, but not so much /tired/. You open up, and become willing to engage the world with less restraint. Loosening up in that way is helpful to some people. To others, it's just a vice, the same as any other."

As they reach the encounter with the scimitar-wielding pirate, V rushes forward in what is a much /less/ practiced maneuver than he actually makes it look like. He dives underneath the swing and comes out behind the pirate, coming about half an inch from actually just winding up caught in the dramatic swing.

He shivers at the sensation of it as he comes back up, staggering forward and catching himself with his staff as he does so.

"T-too close!" He exclaims.

Whiskey Sour
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Spotting Nureha having some trouble, Whiskey is quick to offer a shoulder and supportive hand - with a quiet "Hang in there, Guildmaster!" - as the group quietly escapes... nnnnnot the worst bar that Whiskey has ever been to. Certainly the worst alcohol.

Resuming a proprietous distance when Nureha recovers, Whiskey is slow to react to the swinging blade of the hall guardian. Really, with the whole shouting thing, Whis really should have been more aware -- but she follows Nureha's graceful evasion of the blade with just sort of eating the cut and spinning to one side, making a more-annoyed-than-pained grunt. "Ehgh! I think I transmuted that slime into Tauriner and not water. My heart's beating too fast!"

Eyes askew as she hustles around the blade having taken the swipe, she pauses before the guard door to start mixing up something in a hip flask. "I'll just level it out with some..." She muses, crushing a berry that dryly splorts an ominously black cloud of particles into her flask before she swirls it and downs it.

After a moment where she turns purple, she stands back up. "There, see? Much better."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Reika managed to avoid any tipsy effects, so when she steps into the room, her senses are clear... and screaming to get out of the way! The huge scimitar slams down and she quickly hops back to avoid it, taking up her fighting stance. "Eep!" Like Muzki, she's pretty fast, but Mizuki's antics even makes her dizzy. "Uhm, that works as a distraction I guess?" She doesn't know what Mizukus is referencing either... If he's going to keep swiping at Mizuki, the rest of them can carve out the beastman easily enough.
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     Yuuki just kind of stares the monster down as Shin goes past it. It seems...tremendously confused. This isn't how adventurers usually interact. The monster gives this some deep thought before it decides on its response - a thundering roar.

     That will probably go get the boss, right?

     The scimitar swings back and forth as it tries to pin down Mizuki, and, well, it's more or less incapable of landing the blow. It is, indeed, too slow, though the other, more dated, insults are completely lost on the giant. It apparently does not know the finer points of video game culture. It also apparently does not realize that it isn't going to land a blow on Nureha, either, as its wide arcs attempting to catch Mizuki also go wide on the fox.

     Att Syne's distraction is almost *welcome*. That's something it can deal with! It spins, bringing the scimitar down to meet the staff in a calamitous ring. If the boss wasn't alerted by the roar, it's almost certainly been alerted by that high-pitched chime. It swings again and again, trying to break Att's defense, but each time, Att either parries or slips away, and it comes out as completely useless.

     Fortunately, it's a distraction, which Kirito and Proteus can capitalize on. Proteus's water explosions and Att's own taunts send it spinning in an attempt to keep an eye on everything, which lets Kirito just charge right in with a thunderclap. V's own, very narrow, evasion is lost on it - it's too busy trying to deal with everything going on around it. On the upside, it nailing Whis gives it a tiny bit of satisfaction, just before the sheer combined onslaught sends it tumbling to the ground.

     Up the stairs the party goes, running, running, running.

     A clear man with no legs awaits them. He offers a kind-hearted smile through clear lips and clear teeth. "Ah. I was indeed wondering when you would arrive."

     "My Master has ordered me to take care of you." One hand presses against its liquid chest as it bows. "I'll show you every hospitality on your journey to Hell."

     The clear man suddenly explodes outwards into a shower of tendrils and blasts, the roar of the ocean echoing through the room. It is a flood, a tidal wave, a tsunami; it fills the room with electric violence and thunderous force.

     It's only natural that a Pirate King would have such a thing. He's conquered the water itself.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Reika with the large beastman down, there's only a path to the final room... or so she assumes anyway.. There should be someone controlling all of his at least, right?

Well it's not in this room. Since this... creature is talking about their master and protecting the place. So be it, one more thing to cut down! Then they can take care of the chief. Hopefully. If there isn't anything else. It's been a long side quest.

But before she can react, the air charges up with thunder. As she pulls her swords, she's blasted backward and off her feet, with a 'EEEEK' following. She's literally sent back flying through the doorway they just entered, but not too far off. Just out of this round.
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     The room fills with water. With thunder. The room fills with the roaring of the waves. Tentacles scrape past Shin's face, carving dramatic glowing scars into his cheek. He ducks a swing like a boxer, tilting to the side with his hands up. His march is undanted.

     There is a tremendous grin on his face.

     "I've...been waiting for this!"

     Shin shifts his legs. One hand goes out in front, palm open. The other hand pulls back, closed into a fist against his side, the water raging around him. Another tendril smashes across his face, carving a nasty-looking red light gash. He doesn't seem to care - the wince of pain doesn't get in the way of the elaborate motion.

     His thrust-out hand rises. He steps forward. The hands rotate, from one and three to five and seven.


     Both hands click against the stone belt. It opens with a 'click.'

                        0 01 0
                      1 /----\ 0
                     0 /      \ 0
   ARMOR BEETLE    ====|  /\  |====  CODE: ALGOL
DEFENSE OF DESTINY ====|  \/  |====    COMPILE
                     0 \      / 1
                      1 \----/ 1
                        0 10 0

     The wind howls. It's a whirling cyclone, dragging the water into it around Shin, the roar of the wind matching the elemental.

     The wind dies down, though it doesn't stop whirling.

     What's standing there isn't Shin anymore.

     The red eyes of an Armor Beetle blaze to life under a yellow mandible crest. The white scarf has turned red, rippling behind the thing as it walks forward, hiding whatever mouth may be below it. Where once was a goofy-looking Anime Protagonist now is an armored thing, its carapace glittering in the light. The wind follows him as he walks. Each armored step splashes into the waves. Each armored step brings with it the wind, pushing aside the water around him. One finger comes out, pointing at the water elemental.

     "Masked Ranger...Algol!"

     "Now, let's count up your sins!"

     The bug-man goes plowing straight into the monster. Fists whirl with cyclones, hammering against the thing's body to push aside water for the rest of the part. Feet kick up over and over, knocking aside tentacles and waves. 'Algol's barrage grows more and more forceful, until, at last-

     "Let's make this showy." His hand snaps against the belt. There's a loud whirr as the jewel begins to spin.

     "Code: BREAKER!"

     You know exactly what happens. You *know* what happens. If you don't...

     It's a giant karate bug kicking a thing in the chest to disrupt it for the rest of the party to handle.
Att Syne
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Watch out, thing's sharp!" Att calls to V around the back of the scimitar-wielding monster. "Learn it's reach!"

It goes down, hard. Att raps his staff against the floor. "Good work! Now just one more room, and we're home free. Everybody take a second to heal up and refresh your cooldowns." Att leans to one side, looking back the way they came. "I don't think we're going to get swamped with adds for the next minute or so." He takes his own advice after that, topping off his marginally-lowered hit point total with a potion and giving his skills a once-over. Deep breath... okay. Back into it.

The clear gentleman makes Att's stomach flip uneasily. He was expecting a pirate king, not an elemental. "Yeah, well, we'll be sure t-"

The sudden flood of water attacks cuts off his witty rejoinder. Att Syne gets hurled back across the room. He moves laterally, riding the wave until he bounces off the wall with a dull thud of impact instead of getting catapulted down the stairs. Att Syne twirls and dives past the next literal wave, coming up and conjuring a shield of shimmering violet energy as a sea-wall to counteract the force of nature they're contending with. This, he reflects, is a lot more intense than it was in the game. But if their skills are the same --

"Nureha! Get ready!" Att rises to a stand, lifting his staff. He points at the center of the room, where the mass of water originated, the swirling, surging seas lacking any real definition besides maybe the hint of a shape in its midst now that it's on the offensive. He draws lines with the tip of his staff, leaving sparking glyphs in the air in front of him in the same violet color as his faltering barrier. Deep breath; get air in your lungs, not water...!

"THORN BIND HOSTAGE!" The glyphs vanish, and thorned vines made of glowing purple energy erupt from the waves, rolling over the surface of the water like seaweed on the tide. The difference is that it's anchored... and it's restricting the water's movements, creating columns and pillars of it around a central mass instead of just flinging violence against the sea. It won't hold it forever, of course -- it's a great root, but it's not infinite in duration or power -- but it'll hold it just long enough!
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Mizuki's spirits are high as she climbs the stairs to the boss. But instead of a big lizardman Pirate King, this time it's a water elemental? Who mentions the Master right off the bat this time. "Who is this Master?" She asks, but suddenly the water guy IS the room. It's nuts! It takes almost everything she has to leap from briefly-appearing dry spot to dry spot, using air magic to correct her jumps midair. Grunting in pain when she slips up and a tendril of water slaps across her.

    Her mouth runs on autopilot: "We're Adventurers! Don't you know we just respawn?!"

    How do you even DAMAGE water? Mizuki burns through her MP trying, hurling bolts of magic and then creating a small, damaging electrical field to try to keep shocking the boss -- or at least make a safe place for her to stand. "Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! Jupitel Thunder!"
Count V
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Past the great, towering bodyguard. Up, up, up the stairs...

Count V enters the room with a spell on his lips, expecting a Pirate Captain. The image in his head is a dark-haired man with a great, exaggerated hook in place of one -- perhaps both -- of his arms. But that isn't what he finds at the end of their path. An elemental is a much difference beast than a man.

Hurrying to a middling position in the boss chamber, V raises his staff and begins to speak:

                            "Fierce undaunted grip,                            
                     Branches stripped from twisted limbs,                      
                             Not a leaf is spared."                            

A dreadful gale springs up around V, winds whipping around him in a storm that defies the substance of the elemental. Appendages and projectiles descend upon him and are dispersed to sprays of mist, like the last stretch of a wave crashing against its beach.

No counterattack is forthcoming. The roar of the spell is sufficient that hearing what Count V is saying becomes difficult-- but soon after he begins to whip his staff in the direction of other party members, beginning with Shinn.

A blue-white gleam emanates from the eye of his staff, and one by one the whirling shield of air is applied across the party. It isn't a terribly long-term shield, but it buys long, precious seconds of uninterrupted ability to just Do after it comes into existence.

Count V says nothing /audible/ to Att Syne's advice. But he /might/ catch a glimpse of that weird staff winking at him in passing, which can probably be assumed to be a positive reaction.

Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The world is lightning and water and noise.

But you can't out-spectacle adventurers. Especially not Masked Ranger Algol, Champion of Justice.

Nureha meanwhile stays perfectly still in the midst of the chaos, using her staff to draw a circle around herself while Shin very effectively distracts the elemental.

A number of menu windows surround her and Att Syne's health takes a dive, causing her attention to snap towards him. She hums under her breath and begins to recite a long and complex Hymn as she draws runes along the inside of the circle. She ducks just barely enough for tendrils of violent force to sweep past her face and shoulders, stepping outside of the circle to dodge with one foot still planted in the center.

The temperature sharply plunges as she reaches the end of the command sequence. Frost crawls over her clothing and across the circle itself before exploding outwards in a shockwave of cold on an already cold day. One tendril slaps through the immaterial menu screens, just that light tap causing Nureha to fly backwards like a rag doll, tumbling into a heap on the ground, her front a mess of glowing red gashes. If it had happened even a second and a half before, her Hymn would have been disrupted. As it was?

Another shockwave of cold ripples through the area. And at first... nothing seems to come of it. Slowly, but with increasing speed, the cold intensifies around the vines of glowing purple energy. They turn faintly blue as they pulse, all at once, flash freezing everything that they touch, spreading outwards to freeze chunks of the elemental completely solid.
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Yuuki flashes Proteus a smile as she's asked a question, "Of course!" Yuuki pats the blade at her waist, "This is the Absolute Sword. Formerly owned by King Apeiron himself! It has standards, you know!" Nevermind that Yuuki uses it to beat on random mobs all the time. But boss gatekeepers when Yuuki's in the right mood and just wants to get to the boss? For sure!

    Though it seems that the source, if at least partial, of Yuuki's nickname is an impressively unique drop!

    The group quickly brings down the bodyguard, Yuuki proceeding to calmly walk past the fallen mob. Though Yuuki does give it a smarmy grin before it shatters into light. Finally, onwards to the boss!

    As they come face to water with the elemental, Yuuki slowly draws the Absolute Sword from its sheathe. As the elemental greets them, Yuuki retorts with, "I've been to hell. And beaten it. That was a fun game!"

    But as the fight quickly turns into something out of a water park, Yuuki's eyes go wide.

    At the sight of Shin.

    "That's. SO. COOL!"

    Boss fight now, geek out later. Yuuki starts running, heading straight for that rushing water. Just before it reaches her she leaps into the air. Rushing wind flares to life around Yuuki's feet before she lands atop the water. But she doesn't sink into it!

    Suddenly Yuuki is zooming along the rushing, thrusting waves and tendrils, surfing around them, jumping to others to avoid being struck. All the while she's laughing out of pure joy.

    Soon Yuuki makes her way to the elemental's core, using its own water to surf around it. A small twister forms around her sword and she begins to cut into the elemental with each pass, the windy strikes sending water spraying everywhere!
Whiskey Sour
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Take a breather? It's good advice! Whiskey takes one of those alongside Att when he suggests it, squatting down to lean against the wall and exhale. Being low level again - and feeling it all? Life was hard! Life was hard and nobody* understood.

But there's a boss to kill, and so onwards and upwards the party goes. Similarly to Count V, Whiskey expects a cool pirate, or maybe a swarthy go-ko-blin with an anchor in his hair...

She gets a tempestuous tidal wave. A staff materializing in her hand, Whis begins incanting -- but it's handled. A relieved sigh escapes the druid as she smiles, lets her arms go slack, and then turn her back on Shin's dazzling transformation, guarded by the water control and the wall of air. Kneeling on the ground, she draws a quick circle with her fingers, and presses her thumb into the center, the present water filling the circle like a basin.

A small water droplet elemental appears after a moment of quiet chanting, and Whis looms over the little sprite.

"Hey. Cut it out with the water." She demands. She produces the Weird Mushroom from her pocket. "Or I'll force-feed you this tasty treat."

The water elemental nods shakily and the circle of energy splashes away.

Nodding firmly, Whiskey pops the cap of the Weird Mushroom (white skull blotch and all) into her mouth and chews. "Sheesh. Nobody wants my mushrooms today."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

    Did that guy just use his were fang transformation as a henshin?!

     That's. SO. COOL!

    She can't stop moving to stare, but she does cheer for him while waiting for her MP to regenerate. "Go, Ranger Algol!"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Kirito seems to narrow his eyes a bit as he keeps those swords drawn, working with the others and managing to fight off the bodyguard in quick fashion. Walking past the fallen mob, Kirito takes a deep breath and keeps his attention about him. However, he notices the boss and he rushes after it.

Elementals are a pain in the ass, though, for lack of a better term. Like Yuuki and co, he enhances his blades with a wind attribute, but he doesn't make a lot of purchase at all in his attacks.

In fact, he does extremely little damage. But, it looks like they manage to succeed all the same.

"Good work, everyone. It got rocky at times, we we managed to get it through."
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The obvious boss battle is heralded with a suitable visual effect.

           \/                                                  \/          
           ||         -- BOUND MASTER OF THE WAVES --          ||          
           ||                       ROIL                       ||          
           ||          -- THE GREAT BATTLE BEGINS --           ||          
           \/                                                  \/          

The debonair yet violent water elemental joins the battle with the group, seeking to eject them violently from the area. "Please line up in an orderly fashion, and I will make your dispatch swift and painless." He states.

Reika is the first to be ejected, a thunderous blast of salty seawater and sizzling air sending her blasting right back through the door she entered. "Next." He calls, confident.

Proteus grins and throws up her hands, tracing a pattern in the air as she, perhaps in a fit of hubris, attempts to shred the water elemental apart using its own body. For a moment, the water elemental shears apart, beginning to draw into a whirling disc... But the spinning blade lashes back, crashing into Proteus and sending her flying back through the door after Reika, this time with long red damage slash on top. "Next." Roil calls, continuing to compound as the attacks keep coming. Every attack turned back just seems to make the water elemental more and more potent, as if it was building moment with each countermove.

Which it is, actually. I mean, the status icons are right there to see if you can spare a second to look at the tooltips, right?

Kirito has his own problems dealing with the enemy. Even with all of his skill, the water elemental just seems to be parrying Kirito's strikes, turning them aside with his enhanced movements like some kind of scummy parry king brawler, only even more smug about it. By now he has lots of momentum stacks...
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Enough of this. It is time to put an end to it." Roil states, striking a pose as he pulls himself together once more... And dozens of lashing strikes of water tendrils wash out, creating a massive pile of templates to try to dodge that would confound almost anyone... Anyone, that is, that doesn't have a massive aerial shield to blunt the attack. Count V's foresight causes the tendril strikes to be pushed back, being blunted and deflected by the gale winds, tearing some of the water apart as he tries to force his way through. "What...?"

But now he's overextended. And that leaves Shin time to act. What greets Roil next is the transformation. The water forms into a spear, striking out at the Masked Rider in an attempt to interrupt his tranformation sequence, but the energies released send it splashing back, pushing it back away from Algol. With a yell, Roil marshalls his forces, attempting to slam that deadly kick to one side with a mass of crackling water... But it's not enough. The power of the Masked Rider's Starlight Breaker slams down into the creature, blasting straight through. With a massive detonation, the water elemental is disrupted.

Att capitalizes on this with his Thorn Bind Hostage, the attack wrapping the water elemental up and holding him in place, unable to act for risk of being punished by the painful and deadly attack, forcing Roil to keep coalesced instead of simply melting out of the way of further assaults.

This is a problem as Mizuki begins bombarding Roil with blasts of lightning. "AGH!" He says, his confidene shattered under the combination strike. "I care not if you are an Adventurer or not. The Master commands it, and it will be done!" He struggles forward, the thorny magics shredding it even more as the lightning jolts it, searing away parts of its body into vapor.

The sublimation is bad enough, but then Nureha follows up the combination with a powerful blast of frost, the Frost Shock sending intense waves of condensation rolling through the Water Elemental to force it to lock down, the entity literally beginning to freeze into a beautiful ice statue...
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

Just in time for Yuuki to strike. She washes around the frozen elemental, slashing at the beautiful statue with the grace and power of an ice sculptor with a chainsaw, and shreds the icy thing into pieces, shattering it in an explosion.

Finally, Roil is struck down, the Water Elemental giving a great cry as it loses cohesion. Before it can try to regroup, Whiskey captures it for a moment within her own circle, binding it for a moment and threatening it with MUSHROOM PUNISHMENT. As one might expect, Roil is having none of that. He floods out of there, taking the water with him, perhaps to recuperate. Either way, the resistance is broken, allowing the group to assault the Pirate King's throne room itself. They breach into the next room...

And it's empty. There is no sign of the Pirate King, nor his men. Where one would expect a collection of scallywags and ne'er-do-wells, there is nothing more than a couple chests left unransacked in what looks like a hurried effort to evacuate. From the balcony beyond, one can look out upon the bay to see the ship leaving the encampment, sailing out onto the ocean to escape the unleashed wrath of the adventurous horde. Those who care to look can see the leader of the Stillwater Bandits standing at the helm, staring back at the group in indignant rage, the expression all but crying out that there will be a next time.

However, in the meantime, that does leave the remains of the bandit pirate's loot, allowing them to partake in the rewards of a job well done.

                           -- QUEST COMPLETE! ---                          
Whiskey Sour
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

"Good work, everyone! Remember to leave commendations and--"

Whiskey sounds real excited for a moment, before sighing. "Right. Those aren't in any more. Sorry. Well--"

She dispels her staff, before bringing her hands together to form a heart with her fingers. "Plus one commend from me! Thank you for the party!"

Like switching off a light, she picks up one of the blue crystals and immediately chews on it, her teeth making a light 'clink!' against the surface.

"Interesting." She decides, sliding the rock into a pouch and looking for the exit. "Maybe the pirate king is a rare spawn...?"
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

The Nero Idol grumbles as she comes back into the room "Aw man, I missed the party because of that." She looks slightly crispy, the lightning attack left a few singing traces on her, both skin and ninja suit. "Well, that's done at least." She huffs.

She uhms "Yeah, that wasn't the master... he ran away to come back another day, I guess?" She muses, and heads out back to town alongside the others.
Shin Heno
Carmina Gadelica - Town of Beginnings

     The CODE: BREAKER passes through the beast. It's already dead by the time Algol hits the other side. He straightens and clicks the belt shut.

     The effect is sort of like watching the Were Fang part disintegrate back into Shin, bits coming off him as he changes back. He turns back around, and his goofy grin is back, and his scarf is back to normal. "That was a good first run, I guess?"